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Duke Energy Florida again ranks last in J.D. Power satisfaction survey

Duke Energy Florida president. Can he improve the utility's customer satisfaction ratings?
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times file photo]
Duke Energy Florida president. Can he improve the utility's customer satisfaction ratings? [SCOTT KEELER | Times file photo]
Published Jul. 25, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG — Another J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey, another last place annual ranking for Duke Energy Florida.

As sure as the sun rises in the east, Duke Energy Florida once again ranks last in residential customer satisfaction when compared with 12 other large electricity providers in the Southeast. Duke Energy Florida has ranked last in these annual J.D. Power rankings, issued every July, since arriving in Florida after acquiring Progress Energy.

But the survey results remain the same. Duke Energy Florida appears to have a lock on last place. Of the other 12 electricity providers ranked in the Southeast, Duke Energy-Carolinas and Duke Energy-Progress — two Duke Energy units supplying portions of the Carolinas with electricity — also ranked below the average ranking assigned by J.D. Power based on thousands of utility customers polled.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Trigaux: Can Duke Energy Florida's new chief grow a business when customers use less power?

All of these Duke utilities are owned by parent Duke Energy, based in Charlotte, N.C.

Year after year, the company says it is trying harder and cites certain areas of improvement. This summer the message is similar in a statement provided Tuesday by Duke Energy Florida communications manager Ann Marie Varga.

"We're still analyzing the details of these recent results, but what the J.D. Power ranking does not highlight are the improvements Duke Energy Florida has made in some areas," Varga said. She noted how Duke is improving its satisfaction numbers faster than many other utilities and narrowing the gap in points between the stronger and weaker performers in the survey.

In its last place ranking, Duke Energy Florida received 701 points on a scale of 1,000 in a J.D. Power survey that found electric utilities in general are winning higher marks for customer satisfaction. Varga points out the utility's overall score improved by 47 points from 2016. And that, she said, "tells us our daily efforts to improve customer service have been positive."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Businesses rank Duke Energy Florida last in satisfaction survey

Duke Energy Florida landed in last place this year — a single point behind Tampa Electric with 702 points. For Duke, its ranking this year is a better showing than the 620 points earned in 2013 and 610 points in 2014.

The average ranking in the southeastern survey of 13 power providers was 738 points.

Both Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric, now part of the Canada-based Emera power company, have ranked at the bottom of these regional surveys for years. (This survey was conducted before Tampa Electric's recent power plant accident that has thus far resulted in the death of five workers.)

And once again, Miami-based Florida Power & Light, the largest provider of electricity in the state — and one that consistently charges Floridians in its service territory significantly less for power than Duke or Tampa Electric — was the highest ranked utility serving the Sunshine State. Only Georgia Power, which does not operate in Florida, ranked higher in the survey of large southeastern power providers.

Varga, in her statement, provided an often quoted comment issued by various Duke Energy Florida spokespersons in recent years when responding to the series of unflattering J.D. Power survey results.

"We know our customers want and demand more of their utility company – and we're committed to not only meeting their needs, but exceeding their expectations," she said. "We're adding new smart meter technology that in the future can give customers more information and control over their energy use, which we believe will enhance customer satisfaction."

Contact Robert Trigaux at rtrigaux@tampabay.com. Follow @venturetampabay.